2 female passengers raped, killed within 3 months
China's largest ride-hailing company on Sunday suspended the company's car-pooling service after a second passenger was raped and killed within three months by a Didi Chuxing driver.
Didi apologized on Saturday and blamed itself for not following up on a passenger complaint about the driver, submitted a day before the latest victim was killed.
"We failed to handle the complaint within two hours as we promised and we do not have an excuse to justify that," a Didi statement said on Saturday afternoon.
The suspect had no criminal record. He registered as a Didi driver with real documents, but was using a fake car license plate, the statement said.
Didi announced on Sunday it would close its national car-pooling service starting Monday, and that Huang Jieli, Didi Hitch general manager, had been removed from his post.
The 20-year-old victim, from Yueqing in East China's Zhejiang Province, took the Didi Hitch service car Friday afternoon.
An hour later, she sent a "help" text message to friends before losing contact, according to a statement Yueqing police posted on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo platform on Saturday.
The driver was arrested early Saturday morning, and was described by police as a 27-year-old man from Southwest China's Sichuan Province.
The suspect admitted that he raped and killed the victim, the police statement said.
The alleged rapist was described as an introvert brought up by his grandparents in a report published by the Chengdu-based Fengmian News.
The report cited relatives as saying he had borrowed money from loan platforms before the murder.
Friday's incident came three months after a 21-year-old female flight attendant was raped and fatally stabbed during her private car hailing service in May in Zhengzhou, capital of Central China's Henan Province.
The incident reflects loopholes in the industry, police monitoring and supervision, Xiang Ligang, chief executive of telecom industry news site cctime.com, told the Global Times.
Police have no access and had offered no security instructions to Didi management, Xiang said.
Xiang warned that unless Didi started to regard itself as a responsible public service provider rather than as an intermediary, such tragic incidents could not be prevented from happening again.
"They should invite police authorities to oversee their running and link the drivers' database with the police information platform," Xiang said.
Chinese public security and transportation departments on Sunday summoned Didi representatives to demand an upgrade of its safety procedures.
Internet users focused on Didi's de facto monopoly status in the Chinese market as slowing their response.
Didi Hitch has become more like a mobile dating app like Tinder, others noted.